In the next installment of Come One, Come All we have the following email I received from a woman who also wishes to remain anonymous, but, wanted to share her story and offer a word of advice to other women with frozen embryos or who may have frozen embryos in the future.
"Mine is a cautionary tale. I don't want any other women to go through what I am. I am writing this anonymously because I don't want my ex-fiancé to know what I have discovered. I have frozen embryos from my late 30's stored in a California lab. When our embryos were created we both signed an agreement at our doctors office clearly stating "In the event of Divorce, Dissolution, or Legal Separation" we both wished that the remaining frozen embryos be released to me. After my ex broke up with me (citing the stress of infertility), he changed his mind, now he wanted them destroyed. I was told through an attorney that he would fight me legally to the bitter end to stop me from gaining custody. The lab will not release them to me without a new signed agreement from him. They refused to honor the doctor's form. Furthermore, in my case, we weren't married and the lawyers said the form we signed was meant for a married couple and that technicality would hurt an already very difficult case.
Lawyers have told me that the legal precedence is overwhelmingly against me gaining custody. You can check out this link and see for yourself embryo custody caseshttp://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?12+Duke+J.+Comp.+&+Int'l+L.+75#H2N2. The courts have ruled that a person should not be forced to become a parent against their will. I thought when my ex handed over his specimen he was giving as much consent as most men make in 'fertile' situations. But be aware, infertile women do not have the right to choose at conception like their fertile sisters do. Legally we are discriminated against.
The chances are extremely slim now that I am in my forties that I will have a biological child. Those embryos that I have visualized as my children, that I dreamed of and prayed for will most likely never have a chance at life and this is important - I had an agreement. Had I known that this agreement would not be honored I might have tried to use the embryos right away instead of "banking" them. To know they are there and I am being prevented from using them is torture. You may wonder why I would still want to have a child with a man that hurt me. My response is, just like a divorced woman, those embryos are still MY babies. I love them fiercely and unconditionally - no matter who their father is and what he has done to me.
How can you prevent this situation from happening to you? First, be aware of this situation as you plan your infertility treatments. Second, my advice, is if you can, get a separate agreement drawn up by a lawyer you consult with and make it as ironclad as possible. Unfortunately the legal precedence is still against you, but you will have a better chance. Third, ask whoever is or will be storing your embryos what they will need legally to release the embryos to you."